Training With Chatbots: The Rebirth Of Performance Support
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Revolutionizing Learning Though Training With Chatbots

At Learning Pool, we’re particularly excited about the development of chatbots, which have the power to extend the search tools and apps we use. Forbes magazine even called them our “new best friend”[1].

eBook Release: Smart Thinking: How Artificial Intelligence Will Transform The Way We Learn
eBook Release
Smart Thinking: How Artificial Intelligence Will Transform The Way We Learn
Discover the new, fascinating world of AI-enhanced performance support in workplace learning.

A chatbot is a computer program that engages the user in conversation, either through text or speech. You ask the question, the chatbot replies. You’ll see examples all over the internet from customer queries to voice-recognition searches.

Basic chatbots work according to a set of rules. They respond to set commands, but try and go beyond those and they won’t work. The more advanced chatbots use machine learning, employing Artificial Intelligence. This means they learn from each interaction or conversation, detecting preferences, and making recommendations based on past requests.

This is a new kind of searching based on a dialog and looking for the meaning, or intent, behind the conversation. Like any dialog, information is interrogated, contextualized, and aggregated. When you search on Google, for example, the search engine analyzes what you mean from what it knows about you, where you are, what was the last thing you did, and the words you typed. A chatbot is a great way to surface this intelligence by creating a conversational user experience.

For instance, you can embed a chatbot within an existing app to help users find information. Imagine having a chatbot within a help desk app, to act as the first line of response to incoming requests. The bot could resolve simple issues and then hand over more complex issues to a real person.

Using Chatbots In Training Programs

Chatbots have applications in learning too. Chatbots can connect learners to your organization's Learning Management System (LMS) not simply to request learning, but to select and recommend a particular piece of training and to build a learner profile based on learner interaction and perceived need.

You’ll sometimes hear the phrase the ‘invisible LMS’. The LMS becomes ‘invisible’ as learners have more direct access to and control over the information and learning stored in the LMS without dealing with complex interfaces or needing to sign up to a course. Chatbots can deliver a more personalized way of learning as part of performance support by pushing the LMS out of the way and letting learners get on it.

The application of AI to performance support (PS) has the potential to revolutionize the way we learn at work. This enhanced performance support will take the essence of training and deliver it at the point of need, making training more relevant and cost-effective. It will allow organizations to benefit from improved performance and efficiency with real ‘just-in-time’ learning.

Are You And Your Organization Ready For The Rebirth Of Performance Support?

How do you know whether your organization is ready to take full advantage of this new enhanced Performance Support? It’s not simply a matter of installing new technology or reconfiguring your existing systems. It’s also about learning design, organizational structure, and workflow processes.

Learning expert Frank Nguyen believes performance support is undergoing a ‘rebirth’, but that organizations need to be mature enough to take advantage.[7]

He has identified 5 key factors that indicate the maturity of your Performance Support:

  • Workplace Integration.
    The extent to which performance support is embedded in the workflow.
  • Information Technology.
    Is your IT department engaged in providing Performance Support?
  • Proliferation.
    PS might start in a niche area, addressing a very specific need, but its success for the organization as a whole depends on successful proliferation into other areas.
  • Content Reuse.
    Organizations often develop performance support materials as well as and independent of training. The more you can integrate the two, the more effective the PS.
  • Learning Experience.
    The relationship between training and performance support lies at the heart of PS. The most mature organizations embed learning into PS and make it the primary focus, adding additional training as required.

As well as identifying these factors, Nguyen promotes a maturity model for performance support based on the Capability Maturity Model (CMM). The Performance Support Maturity (PSM) model identifies 4 levels of maturity ranging from organizations who have recently adopted PS or have legacy systems to those at the highest that deploy PS across their enterprise and integrate PS fully into the workflow.

Interestingly, at Level 4 ‘performance support is so pervasive, that customers ask for PS solutions in conjunction with or instead of training.’ In effect, the goal is for performance support to be the new training.

Need A Little Support With This?

You may find that areas in your organization sit at more than one level. Regardless of where you’re at, you may need some performance support of your own to enhance your PS, so here are some tips:

  • Effective performance support needs context, target, and relevance. Your organization does things your way. You have a mix of experienced staff and relative novices, with different support needs.
  • Make sure the information and support you provide are specific to their needs and outcomes. Present it in a way that’s helpful. When someone’s on a support call or in a meeting with a client, a 70-slide PowerPoint training deck isn’t much use. They have a specific question that needs a specific answer. Information and solutions need to be chunked and packaged. The watchwords are ‘just enough’ and ‘just in time’.
  • Once you have your performance support in place, you can’t stop there. You need to measure its effect on performance. Update and refine it based on experience and need. Used well, performance support can unlock the knowledge trapped in the heads of experienced employees. That knowledge can be shared to drive competence and rapidly upskill employees. Good performance support can ensure that all employees deliver a high level of performance across the board.
  • Perhaps the biggest change you need to make however, is how you approach training and learning in your organization.

If you want to learn more about how Artificial Intelligence can enhance Performance Support, download the eBook Smart Thinking: How Artificial Intelligence Will Transform The Way We Learn.

 

Footnote: 

  1. Chatbots Will Be Your New Best Friend
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